History In Ink®  Historical Autographs



Reinhard Heydrich

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Reinhard Eugen Tristan Heydrich, 1904-1942.  Nazi SS Obergruppenführer; head of the Gestapo.  Rare early signed book from Heydrich's personal library, signed Heydrich, with his naval rank, on the front free endpaper.

This is the earliest Heydrich autograph piece that we have ever seen on the market.  As a young man, Heydrich served in the German Navy.  Beneath his signature in this book, Heydrich has written his naval rank, Leut. z. S., meaning “Leutnant zur See,” or ensign. This signature thus dates from the 21 months between October 1, 1926, when Heydrich was given that rank, and July 1, 1928, when he was promoted to Oberleutnant, or lieutenant junior gradeAt this point Heydrich's signature had not yet taken on the chilling angular form that characterizes his later signatures.

Heydrich was second in importance to only Heinrich Himmler in the Nazi protective squadron, the Schutzstaffel or SS, and was a principal architect of the Nazis' plan to exterminate the Jews.  Since he was assassinated at age 38, his autographic material is rare and is increasingly difficult to find.  Most of what is available, too, dates from the late 1930s and early 1940s, in the form of official documents, as Heydrich became more and more important in the Nazi scheme. Those who seek Heydrich material should be careful not to let items pass by.

Heydrich's bookplate bearing the SS runes is affixed inside the front cover, showing that this book was part of Heydrich's large personal book collection, which was broken up after the Czech people raided his library after the end of World War II.  The bookplate exactly matches—down to the very stamp used to imprint his name on it—the one in Heydrich's personal copy of Adolf Hitler's book Mein Kampf, which we recently sold.  Click here to compare the bookplate in that book.  We understand that  this book was found in an antique store in Prague.  Since Heydrich signed this book before he joined the SS, it is apparent that Heydrich, proud of his SS membership, inserted the bookplate later.

This book has an interesting association.  It is a copy of Studentenlieder zur Gitarre, or “Student Songs for the Guitar,” by Heinrich Scherrer, published in Leipzig, Germany, in 1922.  Scherrer was a famous lute and guitar player, perhaps the most accomplished in Munich in the early 1900s.  Heydrich grew up in a musical household and was himself an extremely accomplished violinist.  His father, Bruno Richard Heydrich, was an exceptionally gifted composer and musician and the founder of the Halle Conservatory for Music, Theatre, and Teaching.

On this book the cover binding is split on the inside at the front, but the binding of the body is pretty tight.  The cloth cover is split from the spine on the back and partially from the spine on the front, so that the spine cover is loose.  A couple of pages are loose or nearly so.  Otherwise the pages are intact in the binding. 

We reject Nazism and all that it represented.  We nevertheless offered this book because Nazism, although despised, played a large role in the history of the 20th Century.




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